It’s 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning. After a brief respite involving a delicious home-cooked meal and nonstop cuddles with my dog, I’m about to begin my 30-mile trek down I-40 back to Chapel Hill.
I start my car absentmindedly, queuing up my music on Spotify when the blaring radio stops me dead in my tracks. The radio is switched to 88.1 WKNC, N.C. State’s student-run station.
A Raleigh native such as myself knows, Sunday mornings on WKNC are dedicated to Geet Bazaar, a specialty show that plays a wide variety of music originating from South Asia – Bollywood songs, qawwalis and folk tunes – the music my grandmother loved.
I instantly feel a pang in my chest and a knot in my throat. The next thing I know, a stream of tears starts down my face as I sit in my driveway letting the sounds of Bollywood fill my running car.
My grandmother died in December of 2021 over winter break, after a cancer diagnosis two months prior. Her bout with cancer was quick and brutal. I returned to Chapel Hill for my spring semester filled to the brim with grief, trying my best to keep going despite the permanent void in my life.
It’s true what they say — grief hits you in waves.
Grief knows no boundaries. It can attack you at work, in the middle of class, in your parked car while you listen to the radio. The first few months after my grandmother’s passing, it was the obvious trigger words – "cancer," "chemotherapy," "tumor" – that led to a full-blown paralyzation of grief. But as time passed, I noticed that my waves of grief would come when I least expected it, and sometimes not even for any clear reason.
I’ve lived with my grief for the entirety of 2022 and I want to share the things I’ve learned and unlearned.
First off, your grief is yours – no one else’s. Somehow our silly little brains can make us feel like we’re an imposter to our own emotions. However you feel your grief is valid, and it’s important to allow yourself to feel it however strongly you need to.